It's time to step up for sign-reform committee
Bethel selectmen are accepting applications for five seats on the town's new ad hoc Sign Ordinance Reform Committee.
But they are warning potential applicants they will be signing up for some heavy-lifting committee work.
At last week's annual Town Meeting (See related article) voters approved an article authorizing the selectmen to form such a committee, and they agreed to have the town pay up to $10,000 for the services of a professional signs consultant.
The selectmen, at a brief meeting of their own following town meeting, unanimously approved a proposal from Town Manager Jim Doar for the structure and responsibilities of the committee.
Its members will be charged with coming up with recommendations covering directional signs by Sept. 14, and with recommendations for other aspects of business signage — including size, structure, location and administrative ease — by Feb. 1 of 2013.
The directional signs recommendations would go to voters at a special town meeting in September.
“It's tight timeframe,” Doar said, “We could have town meeting Sept. 25. … This at least lets people get stuff up before the ground freezes.”
The recommendations on other signage issues would go to voters at the June 12, 2013 annual town meeting.
The committee is to have seven members, one each from the Board of Selectmen and Planning Board and the five non-board members.
The business community should be well represented.
In his proposal to the selectmen, Doar recommended the following: “The Board of Selectmen shall appoint, as much as is practicable, members representing business interests from the Sunday River Road, Bethel Village, Routes 2 and 26, West Bethel, and “off the beaten path” locations (e.g. Intervale Rd, Chandler Hill Rd, North Rd.).”
Asked later if that meant participation on the committee would be limited to business interests, and other members of the community should not apply, Doar said: “They should absolutely apply. I recommended the Selectmen give consideration to people representing those business areas; they can, and will, appoint whomever they want.”
At last week's selectmen's meeting, Don Bennett offered this advice to anyone considering applying.
“This is going to be a rigorous process. Understand if you want to be on this committee there's some serious business going to be done.”
“If they don't attend,” Selectman Pat Carter said, “they're going to be dropped and someone else appointed.”
The openings on the new committee will be advertised for two weeks.
“Then, seeing what we get,” Doar said, “we will have the Board of Selectmen meet to appoint people.”